Brief Fact Summary. The Appellant, Ammons (Appellant), brought suit against the Appellee, Wilson & Co. (Appellee), for performance on a contract to buy 942 cases of shortening.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Silence and inaction by an offeree can act as an acceptance in certain circumstances, wherein the offeror has every reason to believe the offeree will accept.
The Appellee (Wilson & Co.) was a meat packing business that had a traveling salesman in the area where the Appellant (Ammons) operated his grocery business. This salesman, Tweedy, had no authority to enter into any binding contracts on behalf of the Appellee, and typically simply submitted orders on behalf of interested buyers. The orders explicitly stated that they were subject to acceptance by the Appellee at the point of shipment. Over the course of prior dealings between the Appellant and Appellee through Tweedy, every order Appellant made had been accepted and shipped out no later than one week from the time the order was given. This time, Appellant made a 942-case order of shortening. The Appellee did not respond until 12 days later, when it rejected Appellant’s order.
Did the trial judge properly dismiss Appellant’s complaint?
No, the issue should have been presented to the jury.
The court notes the rule that an offeree, through prior dealings or other communications, may give an offeror reason to believe that inaction or silence is actually acceptance. In previous dealings, all of the Appellant’s orders had been shipped within a week. Therefore, the prior course of dealings suggested that Appellant may have reasonable believed that if an order was not expressly rejected within a week, it was accepted by Appellee. Therefore, the court believes that it is a question of fact that should be answered only by the jury.